Days before her death, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dictated a wish to her granddaughter related to the 2020 presidential election.
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg told her granddaughter, Clara Spera, according to NPR.
The Supreme Court said in a statement on Sept. 18 that Ginsburg, 87, passed away in the evening surrounded by her family at her home in Washington from complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Ginsburg’s late wish will surely figure prominently in the debate that’s likely to ensue if President Donald Trump goes forward with appointing a new Supreme Court justice before the election on Nov. 3. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that he would move forward with approving a justice should an opening come up ahead of Election Day.
President Bill Clinton appointed Ginsburg to the Supreme Court in 1993 and she has served for 27 years since.
“Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague,” Chief Justice John Roberts said of Ginsburg. “Today, we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her—a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”
Trump has recently announced a list of potential Supreme Court picks, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)
“Apart from matters of war and peace, the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice is the most important decision an American president can make,” Trump said at the White House in Washington.
The president has already appointed two Supreme Court Justices, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Kavanaugh’s confirmation turned into a political spectacle after Senate Democrats late in the process unveiled a complaint from a woman who accused Kavanaugh of misconduct. The woman’s allegations proved unsubstantiated and Kavanaugh was confirmed, but not before a dramatic Senate hearing which captured the attention of the nation.
A private service for Ginsburg will be held at Arlington National Ceremony in Virginia, the court wrote.
Trump warned of a dismal future if the Supreme Court ever included a majority of Democrat-appointed justices, claiming they would “erase the Second Amendment, silence political speech, require taxpayers to fund extreme late-term abortion.”
“In the recent past, many of our most treasured freedoms including religious liberty, free speech, and the right to keep and bear arms, have been saved by a single vote on the United States Supreme Court,” he said.
Ginsburg spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s left wing and became something of a rock star to her admirers. Young women especially seemed to embrace her, calling her the “Notorious RBG” on Twitter.
Her health issues included five bouts with cancer beginning in 1999, falls that resulted in broken ribs, insertion of a stent to clear a blocked artery, and assorted other hospitalizations after she turned 75.
She resisted calls by some liberals to retire during former President Barack Obama’s presidency at a time when Democrats held the Senate and a replacement with similar views could have been confirmed.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.